CAS Blog

Training an Ex-racehorse

Thursday, May 30, 2019

I love horse riding and I wanted to include this in my CAS. I decided that I would continue my lessons (every Monday afternoon) while focusing on an area of horsemanship called légèreté (an alternative style of riding which is translated to ‘the school of lightness’).

An opportunity had also arrived that I could not refuse. A friend of mine was leaving to go to Germany for three months and asked me to look after her horse.

Her horse is an ex-racehorse called Widdle. Over the course of the three weeks I wanted to improve his training. He was a very jittery horse and jumped at almost anything that moved in the wind. He was so used to racing that he found going slow a challenge. During the three months I would also form a bond with him and improve my horsemanship skills. I would be carrying out all the tasks needed to look after a horse.

The first week was a challenge, it was constantly raining and his yard was full of mud. Cleaning out his yard in the mud was hard work as the wheelbarrow would constantly get stuck. Training him in this weather was hard work, he found it hard to focus.

The next few weeks I worked on establishing a bond with Widdle, we got used to each other and I was able to train him more effectively.

The next month I worked on his stride, I would try and get him to open his stride while not letting him hold his neck up “like a giraffe” he slowly became more relaxed. Most of our training was done off the horse as he was very tall and often reared and bucked.

By the end of the third month I was able to ride him freely without him running off like a wild horse. He could walk and trot at a regular pace. I ran out of time to work on his canter but I will work on this with his owner.

Widdle and I became very good friends. During the three months I cut my hair. When he saw me he came up and smelled around my head and face to make sure it was still me. After that there was no problem.

During the course of this I found there was a shortage of hay. This was due to the sudden wet weather, and having the wrong type of hay delivered. We were able to find some hay not long after.

I enjoyed my time with Widdle very much and learned a lot of new skills for training horses.

Alice Bekkers
Year 12 IB Student